Nerd Culture

Best Things to Do This Weekend: Jordin Sparks, Ear, Literally the Worst Show Ever

Get ready to see Sparks.
Get ready to see Sparks. Glenn Fawcett
The weekend is finally here, Phoenix. Don't let it go to waste. Instead, see local politicians compete at the Epic Lip Sync Battle, take a walk with bats (and Ambur Gore), and cheer on the Diamondbacks. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' curated calendar.

10th Anniversary Celebration
After years of planning and building, the Tempe Center for the Arts opened on September 9, 2007. Since then, it has hosted hundreds of concerts, events, and art exhibitions. At 8 p.m. on Friday, September 8, the arts and entertainment venue will host a 10th Anniversary Celebration, with a concert featuring local American Idol winner Jordin Sparks.

During a preshow reception starting at 5:30 p.m., the center will have complimentary hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and champagne, as well as live entertainment in its lobby, lakeside, and studio spaces. The Gallery at TCA will kick off its season with a preview of “Tempe Xhibition,” a display of works by artists who have shaped the art scene in Tempe. Many of the exhibiting artists will be in attendance to meet with patrons. Tickets for the gala start at $75. The center is located at 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. For more information, call 480-350-2822 or visit the city of Tempe website. Laura Latzko

Expect lots of costumes and no real singing. - CO+HOOTS FOUNDATION
Expect lots of costumes and no real singing.
CO+HOOTS Foundation
Epic Lip Sync Battle
Imagine what a sight it would be to watch Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilman Daniel Valenzuela decked out in leotards, shaking their hips, and lip-syncing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.”

We’re not saying that’ll actually happen at the Epic Lip Sync Battle to benefit local nonprofit CO+HOOTS on Friday, September 8, at 6:30 p.m. But it’s definitely a possibility, as the duo is slated to perform at the third annual edition of the event.

Costume-clad and microphones off, 11 teams will battle it out for dubbing domination. Intrigued? It’s going down at the Found:RE Hotel, 1100 North Central Avenue, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available via For more info, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

Hear the story of the ear-cutting boy. - NICKI ESCUDERO
Hear the story of the ear-cutting boy.
Nicki Escudero
“Break up with your girl / It ended in tears / Vincent van Gogh, go and mail that ear.”

Even the Beastie Boys knew what a badass act it was when the 19th-century Dutch painter chopped off his own ear and gave it to a lady. New Times contributor Ashley Naftule’s new play, Ear, has some loose ties to that story, with a boy giving a beloved his fleshy, hacked hearing device. But his take heads down an even nuttier path. While the ear-cutting boy in this story is in a mental hospital, the girl in possession of the bloody ear begins to hear some very strange things.

Hear what the Ear has to say at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 8, at Space 55, 636 East Pierce Street. Admission is $15. The show runs through Sunday, September 24. Visit the Space 55 website. Amy Young

Shrine on.
Courtesy of AZ Shriners
El Zaribah Shrine Circus
If cool hats and little cars don’t make you think of fraternal organization the Shriners, we’re not sure what would.
You’ll see those velvety fezes and small vehicles at the El Zaribah Shrine Circus, and the entertainment doesn’t stop there. The annual event includes some standard circus fare, like animal attractions and acrobats performing chill-inducing feats. There’s also some preshow and intermission fun, like pony rides, food vendors, and face-painting for the kids. This year, the circus goes indoors for the first time ever.

Enjoy an air-conditioned good time at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, September 8, at WestWorld of Scottsdale’s Equidome, 16601 North Pima Road. Admission is $18, $15 for military and seniors, and free for kids 12 and younger. The event runs through Sunday, September 10. Call 480-946-3696 or visit the AZ Shriners website. Amy Young

Robert Williams, pictured with his sculpture The Rapacious Wheel, is headed to Mesa. - ROBERT BIRDMAN
Robert Williams, pictured with his sculpture The Rapacious Wheel, is headed to Mesa.
Robert Birdman
Fall Opening Reception
Watch and learn as artists infuse Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum with creative takes on alternative realities. Be the first to see them between 6 and 10 p.m. on Friday, September 8, during the fall opening reception. The museum will present a free mix of visual and performing arts on the Mesa Arts Center campus, 1 East Main Street.

Highlights include “Slang Aesthetics!” featuring art by California-based Robert Williams, the founder of contemporary art magazine Juxtapoz. A self-described conceptual realist, Williams is credited with launching the lowbrow art movement that’s steeped in marginalized styles, alternative art, and underground cultures.

There’s also “AltRealities,” a group exhibition exploring fantastical worlds and creatures in contemporary art. It includes work by Phoenix creative Bill Dambrova. The evening includes music, dance, surreal short films, food trucks, and art demonstrations — plus Rachel Bowditch’s Vessel and the Taylor Family Circus. Visit the Mesa Arts Center website. Lynn Trimble

Bat Walk with Ambur Gore
The end of summer means the end of bat season. Make sure you don’t miss it by joining the Bat Walk with Ambur Gore.

The Arcadia area is home to the Phoenix Bat Cave, where thousands of Mexican free-tail bats emerge from a storm sewer beginning at dusk. Interpretive ranger Gore will give an informational talk on this migrating bat population at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, at the entrance to the Arizona Canal north of 40th Street and Camelback Road. A short canal walk (so wear comfortable shoes) to the bat cave follows at 6:20 p.m.
The walk and talk are free and hosted by the Museum of Walking. To attend, RSVP at [email protected] with the subject line “Bat Walk.” See the Museum of Walking website or the Facebook event page. Lauren Cusimano

Kahn/Selesnick, Quantum Augury, 2017, archival inkjet print, 10” x 10”, Edition of 5. - COURTESY OF LISA SETTE GALLERY.
Kahn/Selesnick, Quantum Augury, 2017, archival inkjet print, 10” x 10”, Edition of 5.
Courtesy of Lisa Sette Gallery.
“Future Arcana”
Gallerist Lisa Sette is marking the year’s diurnal progression toward a darker season with an exhibition of work that resonates with what she calls “our present moment of ecological and moral uncertainty.” The exhibition features Phoenix artist Rachel Bess, as well as the collaborative duo Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. Each conjures historical and retrofuturist aesthetics of the occult, drawing on the fantastic and unknown to address cultural upheaval.

Bess paints oil portraits whose subjects reflect both contemporary times and an enchanted time beyond history. Kahn and Selesnik work in photo collage, creating scenes that blur the boundaries between current anxieties and their historical antecedents. For Sette, these places of darkness beckon with compelling beauty and seductive whimsy.

See “Future Arcana” between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, at Lisa Sette Gallery, 210 East Catalina Drive. The free exhibition continues through Saturday, October 28. Visit the Lisa Sette Gallery website. Lynn Trimble

Literally the worst hosts ever. - COURTESY OF ANWAR NEWTON
Literally the worst hosts ever.
Courtesy of Anwar Newton
Literally the Worst Show Ever
Nickelback is playing in Phoenix on Saturday, September 9, but it will not be the worst show in town that evening. The local sketch comedy showcase Literally the Worst Show Ever will indisputably triumph over the Canadian rockers. So hipsters, put away your ironic but misguided protest signs requesting Chad Kroger and his band leave town, and go to Crescent Ballroom. Comedian Anwar Newton will be joined by Dan Thomson, Michael Turner, Jessie Johnson, Shapel Lacey, Charles Engle, and house band Killa Cam and Those Guys Over There to celebrate two uproarious years of live music and comedy.

Literally the worst anniversary party begins at 7 p.m. at 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $15 to $20. For more information, visit the Crescent Ballroom website. Jason Keil

Ready to Rock? - ROCK LOBSTER
Ready to Rock?
Rock Lobster
Fall Concert Series
At Scottsdale Quarter, listening to live music becomes a shared outdoor experience with favorite tunes from different decades. The shopping plaza will kick off its annual Fall Concert Series on Saturday, September 9, with Rock Lobster, a local cover band known for their renditions of ’80s pop music.

The free Saturday night series will spotlight local cover bands playing hits from the ’60s through today. The lineup includes Shallow Water on September 16, the Crown Kings on September 23, Vinyl Station on September 30, The British Invasion on October 7, Obadiah Parker on October 14, Stanley Serrano on October 21, and Rock Lobster again on October 28.

The concerts run from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Quad at 15059 North Scottsdale Road. For more information, call 480-270-8123 or go to the Scottsdale Quarter website. Laura Latzko

Let them entertain you: The cast of Gypsy treads the boards for you. - JOSIAH DUKA PHOTOGRAPHY
Let them entertain you: The cast of Gypsy treads the boards for you.
Josiah Duka Photography
Gypsy isn’t predominantly about its title character, real-life burlesque artist Gypsy Rose Lee. GRL and her sister, June Havoc, were shepherded into show business by the mother of all stage mothers, Mama Rose, who retained an outsize and complex personality as the girls grew up. If Mama were brought down to human scale, the play (based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s own memoir) would actually be less believable.

Gypsy’s writing team — Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents — hold impeccable pedigrees in the world of American musical theater. The original 1959 run was nominated for a crate of Tony awards, but a bagatelle called The Sound of Music rolled through and snagged most of the statuettes.

Theater Works’ production continues through Sunday, September 24, at 8355 West Peoria Avenue in Peoria. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 9. Tickets, $14 to $36, are available at 623-815-7930 or the Theater Works' website. Julie Peterson

Max out your night. - COURTESY OF THE REBEL LOUNGE
Max out your night.
Courtesy of The Rebel Lounge
To the Max!
To the Max! is filling one night to the brim with local spoken-word artists, lyricists, vocalists, and comedians. The event will be hosted at The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road, and will feature The Color 8 Band, spoken word by Truth B Told, and music by DJ Godzilla. So, go ahead and get your fill on Saturday, September 9.

Doors open at 8 p.m.Tickets are available at the door for $10. For more info, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

We said The Lady’s Not for Burning! For example, this nice lady might just be making soup. - JOHN WILLIAM WATERHOUSE, MAGIC CIRCLE (1886). PHOTO © FREEPARKING CC BY: 2.5
We said The Lady’s Not for Burning! For example, this nice lady might just be making soup.
John William Waterhouse, Magic Circle (1886). Photo © freeparking CC BY: 2.5
The Lady’s Not for Burning
Unless your neighbors have applied an ointment made from babies’ blood, taken the form of a fly, and ridden a demon into the treetops like the late Matteuccia de Francesco, they’re poor witches indeed. Meanwhile, women and children on our planet continue to be persecuted and murdered for alleged witchcraft. Actual magic powers are rare, explaining how witches can be captured and why they die when killed.

In Christopher Fry’s 1948 play, The Lady’s Not for Burning, the prisoner is thought to have turned a man into a dog. Her rescuer is convicted of being depressing, but that doesn’t stop him. And the whole thing’s in rhyming verse.

Enjoy a staged reading at Mesa Encore Theatre’s Black Box space, 933 East Main Street. Admission is free, but donations toward expenses are gratefully accepted. The event begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday, September 10. Visit the Mesa Encore Theatre website or call 480-834-9500 for more information. Julie Peterson

Go Dbacks! - JIM LOUVAU
Go Dbacks!
Jim Louvau
Arizona Diamondbacks v. San Diego Padres
There are few things in life that are unchanging: HBO churning out quality television, NBA players fooling around, and the music and the appearance of Weird Al Yankovic. And if the San Diego Padres don’t right the ship soon, you can add their steadfast ineptitude to that list.

It’s almost as if the fine denizens of San Diego have better things to do, like bask in perfect weather and drink smoothies, than fret over the shortcomings of their lone professional sports franchise. And shortcomings are in no short supply with the Padres.

The Arizona Diamondbacks will look to pounce on their guests at Chase Field, 401 East Jefferson Street, on Sunday, September 10, at 1:10 p.m. Tickets are $9 and up. Visit the Diamondbacks website or call 602-514-8400 for details. Rob Kroehler

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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Rob is a Phoenix native, husband, dad, and an active member in the local music scene. He's written original songs for feature films.
Contact: Rob Kroehler
Laura Latzko
Julie has written for the Night & Day events calendar section since 2005. As a student at Arizona State, she received the Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Creative Writing Award and the Theatre Medallion of Merit.
Contact: Julie Peterson
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young